The Art of Living in Small Spaces

How to make the most of a house that isn't huge.

A transparent Lucite cocktail table makes the living room feel airy and open. Streamlined armchairs from Ballard Designs can swivel to face the TV or the sofa. Photo by Robert Radifera.

Divine Duplex

1,296 square feet

In 2018, Sandra Hale moved from a five-bedroom, 5,000-square-foot house in Donaldson Run to a sunny, two-bedroom duplex in the heart of Maywood.

“I downsized to lessen the financial burden and upkeep of a larger home,” says Hale, a widow who is retired. “There’s also a freedom that comes from having fewer things to care for.”


The master bedroom’s right-size furnishings include a narrow grass cloth desk from Palecek and antique side tables from the owner’s former home. The slim legs maintain a feeling of breathing room. Photo by Robert Radifera.


Transparent acrylic chair legs and corner shelves, and a clear glass chandelier give the dining area a sense of lightness. Photo by Robert Radifera.

To make the move seamless, she turned to the mother-daughter design team of Nancy Powell and Bethany Brower. Hale’s previous house had been furnished with many large pieces that simply wouldn’t fit in her new home. Plus, she wanted a cleaner look.

“The overall concept was to keep everything open, bright and uncluttered,” explains Powell, who painted most of the walls a light color and replaced the home’s wood-laminate and carpeted floors with white oak hardwood. An Oriental rug that Hale already owned became a jumping-off point for a new palette—neutrals accented with raspberry-reds and blues.

From there, the designers went with fresh furnishings. “We incorporated lots of mirrored elements and acrylic pieces that reflect light and enlarge the space,” Powell says. Upholstered Caracole dining chairs with transparent acrylic legs seemingly float around a cherry dining table. Hale has additional acrylic folding chairs that she brings out for parties.

“I really love, love, love living small in a simple style, with elegant touches,” she says. “It’s a new beginning for me.”


Project Credit: Powell Brower Interiors, Manassas,

Categories: Home & Design